Private rented tenants
The Housing Renewal Team can advise tenants of private rented properties or social housing properties on varying housing issues and are also responsible for enforcing the relevant sections of the Housing Act 1985 (as amended) and the Housing Act 2004.
Private landlords are obliged by the Housing Acts to maintain the property they let in a reasonable state of repair and ensure that it is free from hazards which pose a risk of harm to the health or safety of the occupants.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. I rent my house from a private landlord and it needs repairs carrying out, what should I do?
A1. In the first instance, you should notify your landlord of the repairs needed, preferably in writing and keep a copy of your letter. In your letter state what the problem is and ask your landlord to fix it in a reasonable time period, normally a minimum of 21 days, unless it is urgent. We would advise that you also try and speak to your landlord and explain the problem in order to reach an agreement.
If your landlord fails to carry out the work needed or if you feel you are not able to negotiate with him/her, call us and we will visit your home to assess what repairs are needed in accordance with legislation and if needed contact the landlord on your behalf.
Q2. I rent my home from a housing association and have had problems getting repairs carried out. Can you help me resolve the problem?
A2. Yes we can. Housing associations are subject to the same laws as private landlords.
Q3. How do I go about making a complaint/enquiry?
A3. To make a complaint/enquiry you can contact the Housing Renewal Team either by phone, letter or by email. Contact details are listed below.
Q4. Will the landlord find out if I have complained?
A4. We would not normally tell the landlord that you have made a complaint, but this information may eventually have to given in the case of formal proceedings being taken. The landlord may however, easily be able to come to the conclusion that you have complained without us releasing that information. If a landlord asks us about the reason for us being involved we would not reveal the source of an enquiry but at the same we cannot give false information.
Q5. Can the landlord evict me for complaining?
A5. This would depend on the tenancy agreement and how long the tenancy has to run. It is possible that the landlord could evict you following a complaint to us particularly if you have a shorthold tenancy which has run longer than the initial period for which it was granted. Under these circumstances the landlord does not require a reason to give you notice to quit and subsequently seek possession through the courts. It is however a complex area of law and further advice may be obtained from either a solicitor, citizens advice bureau, or the our Homeless Section.
Q6. How long after I make a complaint about the repair of my rented home can I expect a response?
A6. We aim to respond to any complaint within five working days or two working days if the complaint relates to a matter of safety or urgent repair.
Q7. How long does it take you to get repairs carried out to my privately rented house?
A7. This depends on the repairs needed and the response of your landlord to any contact we have made with them. If the condition of the house is dangerous we may be able to have the work completed within a couple of weeks. If however the works required are general items of disrepair that pose no immediate danger to health, it can take anywhere up to six months to complete them or even longer in exceptional cases.
If we receive no response or the response is unsatisfactory we may serve a formal notice requiring the works to be done within a reasonable period of time.
Q8. What safety checks does the landlord have to carry out?
A8. All gas appliances need to be inspected every 12 months by a suitably qualified GAS SAFE registered gas fitter and the landlord should obtain and give you a copy of a Landlord's Gas Safety Certificate. The relevant legislation is the Gas Safety (installation and use) Regulation 1998, which is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive.
The electrical system does not require a similar check, however it does need to be maintained in safe, good working order and we would advise landlords to have a full inspection carried out periodically, particularly when a fault has been reported or work has been carried out on the system.
The landlord should also check that the furniture complies with the soft furnishing regulations and that any electrical portable appliances supplied with the property to a new or existing tenant have been checked for electrical safety. This includes items such as refrigerators and washing machines. Further information is available from Trading Standards who enforce the relevant legislation.
Q9. What are my landlord's responsibilities with regard to repairs? Does this include the decorations and carpets?
A9. The responsibilities with regard to repairs are normally as agreed to in the tenancy agreement between yourself and your landlord. However, there are certain repairs for which a tenant on a short lease (normally less than 7 years and includes shorthold tenancies) cannot be made responsible for, for example structural repair of the building such as roof coverings, condition of external walls, rotting window frames, floors and penetrating or rising dampness.
Typically, a tenant would be responsible for items such as: internal decorative order, glazing repairs such as replacing broken windows, keeping drains and waste outlets free of obstruction and the clearing of guttering. As with most matters related to tenancies it is however always advisable to seek advice if you are in any doubt and in this respect we can assist you.
Q10. What rights of access does my landlord have?
A10. If you and your family do not share the property with anyone unrelated to you the landlord has a right of access to inspect the house from time to time and carry out repairs providing that you are given notice at least 24 hours in advance.
If you share the property with others the landlord may have right of access at any time to those areas such as communal kitchens and hallways you share but not the room you, you partner or family occupy exclusively. In these circumstances the landlord has right of access to inspect and carry out repairs providing that at least 24 hours notice in writing is given.
Q11. What is overcrowding?
A11.The legal definition of overcrowding is quite strict and although you may feel your property is too small in relation to the number of people who live there, it may not be classed as statutorily overcrowded.
In order to establish whether a property is statutorily overcrowded, the assessment will look at :
If two people of the opposite sex have to share a bedroom, the accommodation will be classed as overcrowded if the people in question are NOT a married or co habiting couple or children under 10 years old.
Rooms and the available space are measured following strict calculations laid out in the legislation. Rooms that are counted include living rooms and bedrooms. When the space and floor areas are being calculated, certain factors are considered. These include:
Children under one years old are not counted
Children under ten years old and over one count as half
Rooms under 50 square feet are also ignored.
As a general rule, it is safe to assume that in terms of the number of rooms and occupants, the following applies:
One room is suitable for two people
Two rooms are suitable for three people
Three rooms are suitable for five people
Four rooms are suitable for 7.5 people
Five or more rooms are suitable for two people per room.
The floor areas of rooms also determine how many people can sleep in them. This is established on site visits. As a guide, a room measuring 6.5 square metres is suitable for one person and a room measuring 10.2 square metres is suitable for two people.
Housing Renewal Team
N.B Merlin House is not a public building and there are no facilities to receive the public there.
Tel: 0115 931 6060